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tv   New York Viewpoint  ABC  August 21, 2016 5:30am-6:01am EDT

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>> good morning and welcome to "new jersey viewpoint." i'm ken rosato. today, we bring you an educational initiative called with math i can, and it's having a good impact on students in edison schools. we also bring you some important information which affects 1 in 100 school-age children with an estimated 20,000 kids in new jersey alone. but first, we bring you celebrate the children, also known as ctc. it's a state-approved private school located in denville, and it serves a diverse range of students with autism and other challenges in relating and communicating. the students range in age from 3 to 21. joining us in our studio from celebrate the children are monica osgood, the co-founder, and cuong do, the retired board chair. also with them is dr. serena wieder, who is the
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thank you so much for being with us today. >> thank you. >> well, tell us the difference between this school and other schools or other programs. >> well, as you know, children on the autism spectrum and some with other special needs often have a difficult time engaging, sustaining attention, relating to others. so the first thing that we do at our school is to really develop a meaningful relationship with the children and really understand who they are from the inside out, find out what their passions are, and weaknesses are. and then we use that relationship and that understanding of what we call their individual profile as a platform for learning. so a quick example -- a young man who needs to move and loves trains, we might develop a math activity using trains and a lot of movement to help that child engage. and again, the relationship is always there to support that interaction. >> and how long has the school been around? >> just 10 years now. >> 10 years. and how large is it?
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>> okay. >> ages 3 through 21. >> so you can really focus attention. 130 students in that age range, you really can pay attention and focus attention to the special needs. >> correct. >> what is the dir program that you have? >> well, the model that monica's describing is based on a research model we developed when we tried to think of, how do we set up a foundation for children to move forward in life and to succeed? the concept of "d." d is the development. what does development really mean? and we know it goes beyond measuring height and weight and first words and abcs and numbers. it really goes to capacities to share attention, to relay, to have this back and forth conversation we're having, to being able to problem solve and do it with other people and have common sense. and most importantly, it means being able to create ideas,
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to really develop your thinking. but we think of it as emotional thinking early on. that's why it's rooted in what really interests the child. we have to meet them where they're at. we have to move forward, because it's not the content as much as the process that counts. >> and, doctor, you mentioned early on, and the key, i've been told so many times by people with autistic children, is the earlier you find out that they're autistic and the earlier you start treating and working with them and rewiring the brain, the more successful. >> exactly right. and there's a lot of new science, you know, showing why this is important, trying to figure out where it happens, what causes autism. but for us who work directly face-to-face with these children and these families, we want to really anticipate, what are they going to have to do in life? and we start working on those capacities very early. "are you gonna say hello to someone? are you gonna look at someone? are you gonna have a friend? are you going to be able to understand how your body works,
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suddenly?" we try to understand their learning pathway. >> and this could make the difference between somebody who can lead a relatively normal life or somebody in that who could be very incapacitated. >> right. we believe if you start early and really accumulate through these relationships, i mean, think of who made you, right? we want everyone to have a sense of self that's anchored in a relationship. and we work forward. it's not a back, "we'll fix it." it's not a backward >> mm-hmm. >> it's, how do we progress? how do we advance this bigger picture of development? >> now, when a family finds that they have a family member who is on the autism scale, that could be very challenging, cuong. what about the support for the families? >> what ctc recognizes is a student is only at the school so many hours during the day, right? and frankly, they're at home with mom and dad much more during the day. so ctc runs
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the parents on how to work with their children when they're not in school to build upon what is being worked on at school. >> what should a parent who has a newborn be looking out for in terms of signs? are there certain indicators that a parent who has a newborn, maybe a few months old -- what should they be looking out for? >> well, one thing i want to say in related to another question is that it's never to late to start. and make phenomenal progress. so for the parents out there who are watching of older children, i just want them to understand that this methodology, and because the brain is plastic, development never stops. so it doesn't -- you know, we want to start early, but there's hope for the older. >> neuroplasticity -- that's where that term comes from. >> exactly. and i think some of the early indicators are just looking at how a baby is relating to you. you know, how are they taking in the senses around them and being able to stay calm
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on you or gesture towards you? or is there a disconnect where, you know, a light might give them more fear than you would expect? i don't know if -- >> well, cuong, let's even talk about, say, if you want to continue on that, or i also wanted to take us into the direction of the 21st century. we have all this new technology. what about people on the autistic scale and smartphones or computers or -- do we find that this is something that can help bring them into play more? that helps them? >> oh, absolutely. absolutely. so, ctc works pretty closely with another organization we started called identifor. and what we try to do at identifor is to help identify what individuals are good at, what their abilities and strengths are so that once parents understand that, they can build appropriate vocational and educational plans for after high school, for life. and our unique approach is we use games, games on your computer,
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is they're playing games. they're highly engaged, and they'll play for as long as parents allow them to play. >> right. >> but what we provide the parents behind the scenes are tools and reports that says, "your child is among the 90th percentile in math or in music or in logical thinking," right? so if you're great in math, continue that. if you're music, consider a music school. right? so we really help pinpoint that. and it's all done through technology, becaus autistic children tend not to do well with pen and paper tests. so engage them in the way that they want to engage, and you'll learn much more about them. >> fascinating. so it's just a matter of the way their brains are wired? just a little bit different. not wrong, just different. >> just different. and technology can help uncover things such as what they're good at, their executive function skills, right, so how they take in information, how they process information, and how they act upon it.
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relationships with the children, the students, the staff, the families. i've had the opportunity to see children grow from age 2 to their mid-20s. and it just brings me great joy to see children evolve into who they were meant to be, to be happy, to feel successful, to have friends, to feel good about themselves. and that's the best part of my job every day. >> well, it sounds like you have the right idea, the right idea and a great program here for many, many people thank you so much for being on. monica and cuong and dr. wieder, continued success with the school. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> we're coming right back with a program called with math i can. it's working.
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>> welcome back to "new jersey viewpoint." i'm ken rosato. according to a survey by
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50% of young adults say, "i'm not good at math." sadly, researchers have found a pronounced gap in math achievement between average-income and low-income students. and yet 93% of all americans do agree that developing good math skills is essential to success in life. please join me in welcoming meera vaidyanathan, director of curriculum products for amazon k-through-12 education -- tara beams, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for pre-k to 5th grade in the edison public school district -- and 5th grade teacher at lincoln elementary school. good to have you all here today. >> good to be here. >> well, tell us all about this with math i can project. what's this all about? >> it's a campaign that we launched earlier this year to change mind sets about math. so, in partnership with leading education organizations, amazon education is challenging the nation's 3 million-plus educators to take the pledge to
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embracing a growth mind set. >> so it's not necessarily a new technique of doing math. it's a way of changing people's attitudes about math. >> yes, absolutely. it is the belief -- growth mind set is the belief that intelligence is something that can be developed. what it takes is applying different strategies, good strategies, embracing failure, and embracing challenge, as well. >> so, why is it that so many americans have a negative attitude toward math? and so if we see that we're not good at math facts or we can't compute problems really quickly in our head, we think immediately, "i'm not good at math." and so i think it's more concrete. and i think that with children, they start to develop that very early on. they automatically can see they either get the right answer, or they don't. and they develop that they're bad at math, not understanding that math is very interconnected. and there are so many concepts and layers to mathematics.
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edison working with this campaign and working with amazon education and tenmarks to really show children that they are making small progress. and we celebrate those incremental goals that they're setting for themselves. >> and as a teacher, right? >> yes. >> how important do you think it is that the teacher's attitude be positive and that you work with the students to make sure every last student gets it? >> that's at the core of us changing students's attitudes about math and a if you have a growth mind set in your classroom, the teacher has to believe in that growth mind set to set the culture for the classroom. and if you have a growth mind set culture in your classroom, and you work from day one with the students at teaching them to change their words to help change their mind set -- so, they tend to come in and say, "i'm bad at math." and if you just stop saying that and, you know, change it to, "math is difficult for me, but i'm going to keep working at
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impact. >> confession, here. i was a straight-a student all the way till i got to my first year of high school. had a math teacher first year of high school who was -- sorry -- not the happiest of individuals. >> [ chuckles ] >> always had his back to everybody. and when i had challenges in math and went up to him and asked, he said, "go to the lab and ask somebody else." just threw me away. had a low grade in his class and took the class over on my own volition in summer school and had 99% in that because i had a great teacher. >> right. >> and it was the teacher who made all the difference for me. it really was. so that's why the attitude is so all those teachers out there, if you have a student who asks you, help them out. because the teacher who helped me out turned me around, and i had straight-a's in math the rest of high school because of that one teacher. now, what is it that you would recommend to parents in this? >> absolutely. so, visit the website. it's withmathican.org. we have some great resources for teachers and for parents to use to understand how you can develop this mind set with your children at home. it's about math.
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but it's a mind set that applies to really everything that we do in life. >> and, again, give that website again. >> withmathican.org. >> okay, and you can also go to our website, abc7ny, and there will be a link to that, as well. you know, what -- i just hear so many people -- and it is true. we talked about this in the beginning of the segment. so many people who do say, "oh, i'm terrible at math." but math is the cornerstone of everything that we do, i mean, in terms of you have to do your taxes, sadly, you know, and si financial transactions at stores every day. so for people just to give up on it, it just -- plus, it keeps your neuroplasticity in your brain and your thinking. so it is essential. and is this something you convey to your students all the time? >> absolutely. so, i think the most important thing with education is making it relevant to students, right? showing them the why of why we are learning something and why it's going to be relevant to them. and i think with math, it's showing them that really, inherently, math is about
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being a good problem solver, being able to think about a problem and break it down to its most basic terms -- and so that's what we're working with our teachers and our students on really understanding how we apply it every single day for the rest of our lives. >> what would you say some of the biggest challenges or frustrations have been so far in trying to implement this? >> you have to find the angle for every single student. so there will be some angles that will work for some students and won't for another. so, there are some students that it takes a them that why and to show them why it's gonna matter in their life. so it's just constantly working at that and trying to find what's that piece. >> mm-hmm. >> and i think from a teacher's perspective, if you yourself don't think that you're good at math or, "i'm not a good math teacher," or, "i haven't done 3rd-grade math since i was a 3rd grader, and now i need to teach it to 3rd graders." we're trying to work with amazon and tenmarks to show teachers, also, that they need to change their mind set about their own abilities within math, because
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their students to do that. and we've done a lot of work with amazon and tenmarks to make teachers feel more confident in being mathematics teachers, especially at the elementary level. >> what was the epiphanal moment for the edison school district, and why did they decide that this was necessary? >> so, i think working with tenmarks. you know, when we moved to tenmarks, it was to provide more personalized learning to students to fill in those gaps, but also to help those students that are accelerated and have resources at our fingertips that could work with all of those varied levels. really worked a lot on growth mind set with our teachers. and we saw students really setting their own goals, you know? and that was really what inspired us to kind of grab hold of this and say, "this is something we really want to be a part of," because we were seeing it happen organically in the classrooms. and i think that when it's not a push from the adults, but it starts with the kids, that's when you know that you're doing it right, you know? that's when you know that
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and i think that was that "aha!" light-bulb moment for us. >> that's exciting, because it's sad to see that our math scores nationally have slipped so far. and i think too many people just immediately jump to their smartphone to look for a solution. it's just too easy. it's there. and we really do need to make sure that we keep sharp up here and we have those minds going and that math is not something we just say, "eh, too hard." i'm just glad that i had the teacher when i was about 15 who changed things for me. thank goodness we have great teachers l that for the students. thank you for being here today. >> thank you so much. >> meera and tara and victoria, all the best to you. and for information on all the organizations featured on "viewpoint," and if you've missed part of the show and you want to see it at your leisure, do visit us at abc7ny/viewpoint. we're coming right back with some important information that sheds light on tourette syndrome.
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>> welcome back to
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inherited neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements and sounds known as tics. well, it affects 1 in 100 school-age children, with an estimated 20,000 kids in new jersey alone. joining us from the new jersey center for tourette syndrome, also known as njcts, are tim kowalski, a board member who is the father of two girls with tourette's, and his daughter, tess kowalski, a youth advocate who is 16 years old. we're also happy to have with us john miller, the president and of america. good to have you all here. >> thank you. >> well, tell us first off what is tourette syndrome? i mean, i gave the basics of it, but tell us what it is. >> so, i think you described it very well. and when most people see this, one of the characterizations of it is that it's something that you should be able to control. you know, these are involuntary tics. these are things that people cannot stop. they can control it for a little bit, but they cannot stop it. and it becomes a challenge for
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but it's neurologically based, and it's inherited. >> i mean, i had a friend of mine who's a doctor explain it like sparks going off in your brain, basically, and it then affects either physically or verbally, right? >> or it's like a sneeze. >> you tell us. >> an itch you cannot scratch. >> the itch you cannot scratch. >> really? when did you first experience it? is it something that people get from birth, or at a certain point, it just starts? >> well, you are born with ts, but usually it starts to show itself around ages 5 to 6 years old, which is when mine actually 6. >> and what did you think when you first experienced it? and tell us. what did you first experience? >> it was really scary, because as a little 6-year-old i was, who was already struggling with a lot of anxiety in school, you know, hearing from my parents and from my neurologist that i had this disorder called tourette syndrome was something i had no idea what it was. and it was really scary for me, 'cause i didn't really know what to expect in the future. >> sure. and, now, is it an older sibling you have? >> i have a younger sibling. she's 13, and she also has ts.
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>> the first tics that i was experiencing were snapping my head back, twitching my nose and sniffing. i was also coughing a lot, so it was hard for me to say a complete sentence without, you know, garbling the words and coughing a lot, which was really hard for me. >> and tourette's can be experienced by different people with different types of tics, correct? it could be some people -- 'cause i know somebody who does have tourette syndrome in south florida, who has this constant involuntary cough. and that's the way she and so, describe some of the other types of tics and whatnot. >> well, there are verbal tics. there are motor tics. you know, there's a whole range. and everybody's tics could be different. >> yeah. >> we had our national conference in march, and we had hundreds of families from across the country coming together. and everybody had a very unique story to tell and a very unique experience. and i have to tell you, having been with the organization now just for the first quarter of the year here, the passion of
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our board members is really second to none. it's a great community. the kowalskis here are tremendous representatives for new jersey and for the national organization. and we look forward to really help spread the work and awareness. and tourette has a negative stigma associated with it for a lot of people. and we hope being here today and talking to everybody helps alleviate some of that stigma. >> does stress or nervous situations bring it out more, or does that have no connection with it at all? >> it definitely does. for me, when i'm stressed, i do tic a lot more, usually in situations like when i'm taking an exam or if i have a lot of deadlines to meet related to schoolwork or even if i'm seeing a lot of friends for the first time, even if it's a positive stressful -- not stressful, but exciting situation, you know, anything that elevates my emotions. but i would say that when i am giving presentations about ts or when i am, you know, on stage --
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at all. >> really? >> and that's something that i think it is because i am so focused on what i am doing, the tics go away. >> interesting. so maybe when the average person would have butterflies in their stomach, that would be when you might get tics. >> yes, definitely. >> okay. but when you're focused, when you studied and when you know exactly what you're doing, no, you're okay, 'cause you're in charge. you kind of have mastery over it in a certain sense. >> yeah. the most frequent question i actually get asked when i'm doing my talks at the end is, "i didn't see you ticking. what's going on ther do you actually have tics?" because i don't tic at all when i'm speaking. >> fabulous. that's amazing. what about the youth initiatives? >> so, we have recently, in 2014, in a partnership with tim howard, we started a leadership academy. and this is an intensive, four-day instruction that takes place at rutgers university. and it's a safe environment for the attendees to come and really fully understand their tourette
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competitive selection, and we have kids come from across the united states. what they learn are different skill sets of how to achieve skills of self-empowerment, self-leadership, grit, and a lot of resilience, because this is what it really takes to get these kids to go from late adolescence into adulthood and be successful. and it's very tough for some of them, because as was mentioned earlier, some have very limited tics. others hav and others have comorbids that go with this -- ocd, adhd, which in some cases can present even a greater challenge than the tics. >> are there any kind of medications that could help control tics or to help -- in other words, things that would help control stresses, would that also help control tics? >> yeah, definitely. i'm actually on a medication right now which is actually for my ocd, and it's to relieve some stress that i've just been having recently with, you know, my schoolwork.
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medication for their ts. and it's just kind of to take the edge off of their tics when they're going through really, really stressful and severe tics in that time in their life. >> interesting. and, john, what about on the national level? what's going on right now? >> sure. so, on the national level, it's a very exciting time for us. we're funding a good deal of research, neurologic research. we have centers of excellence throughout the entire country. we have our national awareness month, which runs may 15th through june 15th. and the best way for everybody to connect with uss website, tourette.org. we're gonna have a complete re-launch and re-branding of our website, so new and exciting times at the association. >> this is great. you know what? sadly, 25 and 30 years ago, i think too many people were embarrassed and shy to talk about tourette. and i think the only concept they had is, "oh, that's the kid that curses." and that was the only image you had. and it's wonderful to see that you can come out and explain, 'cause i think a lot of people have questions, but they're
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giving us the education that we need to know. and so by knowing, then it doesn't become something that anyone should be embarrassed about, 'cause there's no reason to be. thank you so much for being with us today. tim, tess, and john, you are great spokespeople for the organization. all the best to you. >> thank you. >> and i'm kevin rosato. we thank you again for joining us. enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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